Hey! Have you been wondering about the different types of fasting that God mentions in the Bible? I’m glad you are here because we are going to have a brief overview of the 10 different types of fasting found in the Bible.
Part 4 in the Series of Prayer and Fasting
10 Proven Types of Fasting in the Bible
To get started in this series on Prayer and Fasting, you may want to read
- Part 1 – Is Humility Part of Fasting and Prayer?
- Part 2 – Truthfully, Is Fasting Necessary for Christians Today? and
- Part 3 – 10 Powerful Benefits of Fasting and Prayer.
If you are seeking a closer walk with God, then adding the discipline of fasting to your prayers will be powerful. Fasting isn’t mandatory for Christians today as Jesus never made it a command, however, fasting is a great discipline that will strengthen your Christian walk.
I believe that fasting is an overlooked discipline today. Hey, I only started fasting within the last four years myself! But you know what? The spiritual discipline of fasting is very necessary today. Can you imagine if all our churches fasted, how God would pour out His Spirit and His presence on His people?
We need to see God’s hand move in our local churches, in revival, to stand against demonic powers and sin and to thwart the many threatening situations that our nations face today. Both individual fasting and corporate fasting will see God move in our midst.
What I would like to show you today is the 10 proven types of Biblical fasts that will help you in your daily walk, help you as you grow in spiritual strength and help you as you take a stand against the enemy.
This post is chock full of information. Here’s your free printable to keep handy when you need it.
There is much to be said on this subject of fasting and prayer. This post will cover the types of fasts as presented from Old Testament to New Testament. We will cover the name of the fast, its background and the purpose of fasting.
10 Types of Fasting that God Can Use
These fasts are not the only fasts that a believer can explore for a particular problem. However, we’ll cover 10 types of fasting that you can use as models for your own fasting.
What follows is a brief overview of each of the 10 fasts that God can use. These are listed in chronological order from Old Testament to New Testament.
There is one Scripture reference that is common to each of these fasts and that is Isaiah 58:6-8 which speaks of God’s chosen fast. The elements of this passage are indicated below.
As you read these various types, you may notice that the purpose of fasting is similar to another fast type or that they can be grouped together.
The Samuel Fast
Background: When the Ark of the Covenant was returned from captivity, Samuel led God’s people in a fast to celebrate its return and to pray for Israel’s deliverance from the sin that allowed the Ark to be captured in the first place.
Key Verse: 1 Samuel 7:6 And they gathered together to Mizpeh, and drew water, and poured it out before the Lord, and fasted on that day, and said there, We have sinned against the Lord. And Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpeh.
Purpose of Fasting: Isaiah 58:6 is a verse about revival and soul-winning, about prayer to be used of God to deliver people out of spiritual darkness into God’s kingdom. This fast is to
- recognize and acknowledge your bondage to sin,
- pray for God’s presence among His people, and,
- ensure God’s leaders are in place
The Widow’s Fast
Background: Elijah was sent by God to a poor, starving widow so she could provide food for Elijah. How ironic! Her obedience resulted in food for her survival as well as Elijah’s.
Key Verse: 1 Kings 17:16 And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah.
Purpose of Fasting: Isaiah 58:7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? This fast is to meet the needs of others in caring for them physically with food, clothing, and housing.
The Ezra Fast
Background: King Artaxerxes, king of Persia, had given Ezra, the priest, permission to rebuild their city, Jerusalem. Despite having permission from King Artaxerxes, Israel’s enemies opposed them. Ezra had already proclaimed to the king that the God of Israel would protect them so when his enemies came against them, the only thing Ezra could do was proclaim a fast for God’s direction and protection.
Key Verse: Ezra 8:23 So we fasted and besought our God for this: and he was intreated of us.
Purpose of Fasting: Isaiah 58:6 …to undo the heavy burdens… A fast for problem-solving and to lift the load and barrier that keeps us from walking joyfully with the Lord.
The Esther Fast
Background: Jewess Queen Esther risked her life in appearing before the pagan king Ahasuerus (Xerxes) of Persia. Her people were threatened with destruction by the king though he didn’t know she was also Jewish. Prior to her appearance before the king, she and her attendants along with her cousin Mordecai and all the Jews present in Shushan fasted three days and nights before God for His protection.
Key Verse: Esther 4:16; 5:2 …gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: … she obtained favour in his sight…
Purpose of Fasting: Isaiah 58:8 the glory of the Lord shall be thy reward. For God to show His glory as He delivers His children from the evil one.
The Elijah Fast
Background: When Elijah fled to escape from queen Jezebel’s threat to kill him, he deliberately went without food as he sought the LORD to take his life rather than let Jezebel kill him. After he spent the night under the juniper tree, an angel touched him saying, arise and eat. Twice the angel provided a cake and water for Elijah. This food was the sustenance he needed for the journey ahead.
Key Verse: 1 Kings 19:4,8 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness…he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights…
Purpose of Fasting: Isaiah 58:6 …ye break every yoke. This fast is to break the chains of emotional problems that seek to control our lives and returning control to God.
The Daniel Fast
Background: Daniel and his three friends were held captives in Babylon and instructed to eat the pagan food of the king. Daniel requested that the four of them be allowed to eat only vegetables and water for ten days to see if they be more alert and with wisdom and understanding than those who ate the king’s rich food.
Key Verse: Daniel 1:8 Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank…
Purpose of Fasting: Isaiah 58:8 …thine health shall spring forth… To gain a healthier life or for healing. To seek God’s direction, purpose, and vision.
Are you thinking you would like a copy of this? Here it is … download and print!
The Disciple’s Fast
Background: The disciples had attempted to cast out a demon from a young boy but were unable to. Jesus said that this kind comes out by prayer and fasting. While many times we can cast out demons without prior fasting, there are times when demons are more resistant to leaving and thus the need to spend time fasting will result in successfully casting out demons.
Key Verse: Matthew 17:21 this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.
Purpose of Fasting: Isaiah 58:6 …to loose the bands of wickedness… The bands of wickedness can refer to sin, addictions, bondage, guilt, wrongdoing, violence, acquisition of wealth through wicked means, deceit, fraud. This fast is to free ourselves and others from all wickedness.
Save this on Pinterest to read later!
The Saint Paul Fast
Background: When Saul of Tarsus met Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, he was struck blind as he was on his way to persecute Christians in Damascus. Jesus could not allow Saul’s plan to continue and therefore stopped him from carrying them out.
While Saul was blind and had no clue what was going to happen to him, his thoughts about Jesus changed. He went without food for three days as he prayed for direction and purpose. After his eyesight was restored, his life took a whole new direction as he sought to serve Jesus Christ who saved him from his sin.
Key Verse: Acts 9:9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.
Purpose of Fasting: Isaiah 58:8 Then shall thy light break forth as the morning… To allow for a clear perspective and direction for crucial decisions.
The John the Baptist Fast
Background: John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus, was called by God to take on the Nazarite vow from his birth. He was to have neither wine nor strong drink. This lifestyle set John apart for his mission of being the forerunner of Jesus.
Key Verse: Luke 1:15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.
Purpose of Fasting: Isaiah 58:8 …thy righteousness shall go before thee… For our witness and testimony to influence others as we share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Jesus Fast
Background: After Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River, Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert for 40 days and nights as he was tempted by the devil. Jesus overcame the devil’s temptations through the Word of God, It is written, as He refuted satan’s temptations.
Key Verse: Matthew 4:2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered.
Purpose of Fasting: Matthew 4:1-2; 11 …behold, angels came and ministered unto him. For spiritual power and victory over temptation, the flesh, and the devil.
Times of Fasting in the Old Testament
There are a few times when fasting in the Old Testament is mentioned outside of the fasts indicated in the above section.
The term “fast” refers to self-denial or abstaining from eating food. We read in 1 Samuel 1:7 of the time when Hannah was so distressed that “she wept and did not eat food”.
There was another time when king Ahab was upset that he couldn’t buy Naboth’s vineyard that he “would eat no food”, 1 Kings 21:4. Personally, I’d say he was pouting.
Fasting was a natural expression of grief. David fasted when he was grieved over Abner’s death, 2 Samuel 3:35.
There are many Scripture references that refer to fasting as “afflicting” one’s soul or body. We see this in 2 Chronicles 7:14 with the use of the word “humble thyself”.
David also fasted when his son by Bathsheba was sick. His purpose was to turn away God’s wrath for his sin but God is more just than that. He could not allow David’s sin to go unpunished. When his son died, David abruptly ended his fast since there was no more reason to seek God to heal him.
Fasting in the New Testament
Fasting in the New Testament times had become a widely practiced discipline. The Pharisees were quite well-known for their fasting as they liked to let everyone know they were going without food.
The disciples of John the Baptist regularly fasted and Jesus also had a 40 day absolute fast prior to the start of His ministry.
Though Jesus was challenged by the Pharisees and by John the Baptist’s disciples because His disciples did not fast, Jesus defended their reason for not fasting. He said there would be plenty of time for them to fast after He was no longer with them, Matthew 9:14-15.
Jesus taught His disciples that when they do fast, they should not be hypocritical as the Pharisees. They were not to “advertise” that they were fasting through their facial expressions or demeanour.
After Jesus’ ascension to heaven, fasting in the New Testament church was regularly practiced, especially when ordaining apostles or men for special ministry, Acts 13:1-3; 14:23.
The spiritual leaders, such as Paul, Barnabus, and others, regularly spent time in prayer and fasting. In fact, when Paul had to defend his ministry, he listed ‘fasting’ as a regular ministry discipline, 2 Corinthians 6:4-5; 11:23-27.
Biblical Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough
Some time ago, I read a book by Elmer L. Towns called Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough [this is not an affiliate link]. It is an excellent book based on the 9 Biblical fasts (he doesn’t talk about the Jesus Fast.) He details each fast with a step by step guide helping you to fast and seek God in the right way.
When I first began to study this discipline of Biblical fasting, I started with Saint Paul’s Fast as I had a decision to make and I needed God to guide me. I kept a notebook and wrote out the steps and prayed through them.
Saint Paul’s Fast is a three-day fast with five steps to decision making. It took all three days to work through this and on day three, I knew that I knew what God wanted me to do. This was four years ago now and I have fulfilled what the LORD gave me to do!
If you are interested in learning more about Biblical fasting, here is a Bible Study by Elmer Towns based on his book from Digital Commons at Liberty University.
Wrapping up the 10 Types of Biblical Fasting in the Bible
There is still so much to be said about fasting which we will continue in our series on Prayer and Fasting. I hope this post on the types of fasting along with the kinds of fasting has been helpful to you.
We have reviewed a brief outline of each of the 10 types of fasting found in the Bible.
If you haven’t downloaded it already, here is your free printable for the 10 Time-Tested & Proven Types of Fasting in the Bible in case you would like to have them handy in your Bible.
Future posts in this series will cover
- how to start and end a fast and how long to fast
- keys to successful fasting
- times of special prayer and fasting
- along with a few others.
Current Series Posts:
- Part 1 – Is Humility Part of Prayer and Fasting?
- Part 2 – Is Fasting Necessary for Christians Today?
- Part 3 – 10 Powerful Benefits of Fasting and Prayer
If you found this post helpful in your quest for information on Biblical fasting, please let me know! I’d love to hear what you think. Maybe you’ve tried one or two of these fasts, if so, how was the outcome, what you expected?
If this has been a blessing to you, please share it on Facebook and pin it on Pinterest! Thank you for helping me get the Word out!
I invite you to stay in touch with me by signing up to receive the 215 Ministry Updates. You will receive personalized “Letters” filled with blog happenings, free printables, exclusive posts, and encouragement for your Christian walk. When you confirm your subscription, you will receive a 3-Week Bible Study on the Living Out Your Destiny. You won’t be spammed and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Cindy Barnes has been called by God in the early 80s to be a teacher of His Word. She is a serious student of the Word, focusing on the Inductive Bible Study Method since 2007. Her passion is to teach women how to study the Bible using this method. In addition, she desires for women to develop an intense yearning to draw closer to God through reading and writing out the Bible.
Cindy teaches hundreds of women in her private online Bible Study Group who express their joy of growing deeper in their spiritual walk.
You can stay in touch with Cindy on Facebook through 215 Ministry.